Yesterday was the first truly nice day of the year in Chicago. At the risk of sounding like Al Roker, I’m going to go ahead and call it unseasonably warm. Like 75 degrees. I wore open-toed sandals (especially exciting because it was the first day in history that I happened to have nicely painted toenails, due to a recent pedicure with a potential BFF. Score.) and a shirt that screams “I’m going on a cruise.” (It may only scream this to me as I bought it when I was getting ready to go on a cruise, but it’s definitely a warm weather shirt… And I digress.)
Driving to work, it was clear that even at 7 am the streets were spilling with worker bees strolling a bit more leisurely to the office, soaking in the sunshine. That’s the thing about living in a city where it snows 364 days a year (what? Is that an exaggeration?). The sun brings everyone out of the woodwork, and an already friendly city becomes the puppetless version of Mr. Roger’s neighborhood.
It dawned on me that my BFF search is about to get much easier. With everyone dancing in the street, brunching on sidewalks, reading in the parks, I’ll certainly increase the amount of people I encounter on a given day. When the wind chill is 20 below, no one is interested in chatting on the street corner. There’s an unspoken “put your head down and barrel through the wind at all costs” survival instinct that is respected amongst Chicagoans walking to the El on a December morning. But now that warm weather’s upon us (please don’t let me be jinxing this…) everyone in the Windy City is like Joseph Gordon-Levitt in that scene in 500 Days of Summer. You know, the one with the animated bluebirds. If you haven’t seen it, you can probably envision the mood of a scene that has animated bluebirds. It’s like that.
I was wondering if there was any actual research to back this up, so I googled “the effect of weather on friendship.” In return, I got a boatload of articles on fair weather friends. Of course.
It’s kind of amazing that I was crowning the warm weather as my wingman in this quest without making the fair-weather friend connection. And by amazing, I mean embarrassing.
A fair-weather friend is “one who is friendly [helpful, etc.] only when it is advantageous or easy.” Given that definition I should really hone in on this search during a blizzard—if you’ll meet me for dinner in a snowstorm, I can be confident in the high value you place on commitment and reliability. But here’s the thing about the early stages of a friend search: I want it to be easy. If it’s hard to be my BFF, nobody’s going to sign up.
Still, the label identifies a very specific sort of friend. The one who shows up when it’s easy and convenient. The ones you were sure would always be there (aren’t they always the ones who talk a big friendship game?) until they were noticeably absent when life got tough. And then, when things got good again, ta-dah! You get the picture.
I’m lucky that I don’t really have any fair-weather friends left. Those who were of the 70-and-sunny variety, their stay in my life was fleeting, much like Chicago heat waves in April.
What about you?